Brittney Griner was arrested in February for bringing in cannabis vape cartridges through a Moscow airport as she was returning to the country to play basketball.
Griner was freed from a Russian penal colony on Thursday, December 8th, in a prisoner exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Bout is known as the “Merchant of Death” and the possible swap for him was put in motion back in May. He was in the middle of a 25-year sentence in federal prison after he was convicted of conspiracy to kill Americans relating to the support of a Colombian terrorist organization. His dealings inspired the Nicolas Cage film “Lord of War.”
President Biden tweeted about Griner’s release which included photos with Vice President Kamala Harris and Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
Biden addressed reporters after the announcement of her release. He didn’t mention Bout.
“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along,” Biden said.
Former President Trump slammed the deal.
A video released Thursday showed the runway exchange. Russian media showed Griner and Bout boarding their planes to return home. The footage of the runway exchange was seemingly shot in the United Arab Emirates.
The video was released hours after the official announcement of the swap was made.